Saturday, 4 January 2014

Why was the dysgenic decline in average intelligence not more obvious?



The Crow said...

The obvious reason the decline in average intelligence was not more obvious, was that the average intelligence was declining fast enough that the decline in average intelligence was no longer obvious.

Does this hypothesis seem silly?
Really, really obvious hypotheses usually do. Which is exactly the reason that they are not obvious.

Bruce Charlton said...

@C - I think a vital factor has been the decline in honesty within public life; but especially science. I am constantly amazed that more people have not noticed this, or adopt a cynical pose that things were always as bad as they are now. But I have experienced the change, and it is gross.

But one of the big incentives to dishonesty has probably been the ideological refusal to acknowledge differences in intellectual performance - this dishonesty hides decline as a side effect of hiding group differences.

My theory (elsewhere) is that endemic dishonesty was a result of the Old Left transforming into the New Left instead of admitting that the *primary* admirable goal and justification of the Old Left - alleviation of poverty - had been achieved (although the Left didn't have much to do with it).

Bernard Brandt said...

Dear Professor Charlton:

I suspect that at least a part of the reason why the decline was not more obvious lay in part with that decline having been accompanied by the Flynn Effect.

In a quite recent paper, I believe that its authors may have struck upon the causes of that effect: a period of time in which universal education, including heuristics and test taking skills, may have enabled the test taking population to test above their natural abilities, for a time.

For your convenience, a link to an abstract of that paper may be found here:

If this hypothesis is valid, I think that a reasonable corollary would be that as the ability of schools to educate the young decrease, so shall the Flynn Effect. I would expect that at that point, evidence of the decline in average intelligence would become more pronounced, and one would hope, more noticed.

Best Regards,

Bernard Brandt

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - Yes, that is another factor. Michael Woodley is, in fact, someone I work with pretty closely.